Gadsden council votes against removing Emma Sansom monument

Emma Sansom monument to stay up

GADSDEN, Ala. (WBRC) - At least two Gadsden area symbols of the Confederacy will stay in place for now.

The statue of Emma Sansom, who rode horseback with General Nathan Bedford Forrest to show him a creek crossing where he could capture a Union general, won’t be moved to Forrest Cemetery, as one council member suggested.

It will remain at the entrance to downtown Gadsden, in front of City Hall at First and Broad Streets.

The council voted 4-3 to keep it in place, in an issue that has divided the community and even divided Emma Sansom's family.

"I can tell you that, from an industrial recruitment standpoint, those symbols hurt us. They hurt us significantly. They put us at a competitive disadvantage, relative to recruiting," said council member Deverick Williams.

In a separate vote the council also voted against changing the name of Forrest Cemetery to Freedom Cemetery, because it was believed to be named after General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate General and co-founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

There was discussion about the legal ramifications of renaming the cemetery. Council Member Johnny Cannon said he heard from numerous families who wanted the name not to be changed, but City Attorney Lee Roberts said the plots already purchased and containing graves, will still be and always be known as Forrest Cemetery.

Council member Kent Back, who voted against both measures, says he believes the issue isn’t over and says his own views on these matters are evolving. He says a number of residents “haven’t had a chance to catch up to the conversation,” on such matters.

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